By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja
Eminent Catholic cleric, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has said that it was too expensive for the country to break up, insisting that Nigerians have no choice but to live together.
The Archbishop of Abuja made the statement during a Friendship and Dialogue Dinner, organised by UFUK Dialogue in Abuja recently.
He said, “God has put us all in this one boat called Nigeria. And we really have no other option than to try to live together in peace with all our differences.
“We all must recognise and respect these differences. If we do not take that route, I do not see another alternative.”
He said the alternative to living in peace “is to destroy ourselves”, adding that it is “far more expensive to scatter ourselves than it is to live together”.
He added, “So we want to thank UFUK Dialogue Foundation for reminding us of this fact, and by God’s grace, we shall succeed. I thank them for inviting me to this Ifta.”
Special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, also praised UFUK for the interfaith event, saying the principle could resolve the recent challenge posed by Biafra agitation and the quit notice served on Igbo in the North.
“One thing that struck me at this UFUK Dialogue programme is this saying, ‘Reserve a seat In Your Heart For Everyone’,” he said.
“That is the solution to the complexity that constitutes the problem in a country like Nigeria, in terms of interrelationship.
“If you reserve a seat in your heart for everyone, you won’t promote insurrection. You won’t demand for your own republic. If you reserve a place in your hear for everyone, you wouldn’t give a Quit Notice to anybody on the basis of tribe,” he added.
He said he believed that what UFUK Dialogue is promoting, “year after year, month after month, week after week, day after day; is something that is very salutary”, adding, “I will want to encourage everyone to please embrace it.”
President of UFUK Dialogue Foundation, Mr Kamil Kermabci, who read a goodwill message from US-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, said he belive Nigeria would overcome its challenges.
Reading an excerpt from the goodwill message, he said, “Although there have been some recent provocation conflicts that appear to be religious oriented, I hold the belief and hope that Nigeria is strongly proceeding towards a peaceful and happy future thanks to the broad-minded people like you and the educated generations, who view the future with hope.
“Dialogue, mutual respect, meeting at universal human values and instilling security for people have become not a luxury but a necessity for Nigeria where Islam and Christianity are practiced with their great dynamism.”